Fox’s partner stations want a dramatic turnaround in primetime, and those on the affiliate body are mostly optimistic that Dana Walden and Gary Newman, new chairmen/CEOs of Fox Television Group, can start sparking some hits.
“I’m very hopeful,” says Spencer Koch, KTVI-KPLR St. Louis president and general manager. “They’re two sharp people. They know the drill and understand we need to compete with networks as well as Netflix.”
Walden and Newman have long been in charge of 20th Century Fox Television, and added Fox Broadcasting to their oversight with the promotion. Some affiliates were surprised that the replacement for entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly turned out to be two people, but feel Walden-Newman’s collective pedigree will serve the network well.
“There’s been a great history for Fox for over 25 years, and these guys have been a part of it,” says Koch. “If anybody understands the culture, it’s them.”
Fox is in desperate need of a primetime jumpstart with American Idol a shell of its former self and too few new shows picking up the ratings slack. Patrick McCreery, Meredith Local Media VP of news and marketing and, until recently, general manager at KPTV Portland, mentions a “high level of concern” among Fox affiliates. “I’m happy to see they made changes,” he says, “and am hopeful this paves the way to a brighter future.”
The affiliates acknowledge that the Walden-Newman touch won’t be realized, outside of their studio role, this coming season. But they’re optimistic things will start to move in the right direction. “I trust the folks at Fox network to pick the person, or persons, who will do a great job of getting Fox’s prime schedule turned around,” says Jeff Rosser, Fox affiliates board chairman and a group VP at Raycom. “I have faith in Fox and I have faith in [Walden and Newman].”